Book Review · Books

The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins

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★★★★

I am probably the last person posting a book review for The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

When the book came out, the movie followed shortly after. In that time, I decided to watch the movie rather than reading the book. The movie was amazing and I loved it. But a few years later, when this book found its way to me again, I needed to read it and solve the ultimate battle – movie versus books. As it usually happens in my case – the book version won – without any doubts.

The Hunger Games is a story about Katniss Everdeen, a girl from District 12, who lives with her mum and little sister in the poorest district of them all. She hunts in the woods with her friend/crush Gale in order to provide food for her family.

Surrounded by all twelve districts, there is the Capitol, the shiny city where all the rich and popular people live. A long time ago, the districts tried to go into war and lost. As part of the surrender, each year the Capitol organises a live TV show, called The Hunger Games. Every year, a boy and a girl from each district are randomly chosen to battle in an arena until the last man standing.

When Katniss’s little sister is chosen as the girl tribute from district 12, Katniss volunteers to take her place without even thinking. Both her and Peeta (the male tribute) are then headed over to the Capitol and the preparations for the games can begin.

In a world where people like watching children kill each other, it can be pretty upsetting to see this as a reality. I can’t help but think that unfortunately, people have some instinct left in them and are unconsciously enjoying watching other people suffer. Think of the gladiator fights, ultimate fighting matches and other events similar to these.

Putting that aside, what I love about this book was the attention to details. From the descriptions of the districts, to the preparations for the games. And the game itself was so well written that I kept turning page after page, desperate to see what will happen next.

I love Katniss, her bravery, her love for her little sister, all the sacrifices that she has made. Starting with her volunteering instead of her sister, to her love with Gale. Her spirit to make things right can be felt throughout the whole book. Her rebellion and her stance with all the people that are not treated fairly by the Capitol.

Even though presented as a Young-Adult, I am convinced this is a book every adult should read as well, and have a few thoughts about their surroundings. I loved the first book, and I can’t wait to start reading the second book of the series as well.

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Book Review · Books

The First Time Lauren Pailing Died – Alyson Rudd

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★★★★

The First Time Lauren Pailing Died is a beautifully-written novel that opens your eyes about life and its meaning. A very powerful novel with interesting story. I have read books that have a few similarities to this one, but I haven’t read anything like this before.

The main character in this book is without a doubt, Lauren. In the first chapters, we learn more about her and her parents. Lauren is an intriguing child, able to stare in the distance for a long time and able to see a different mummy that doesn’t exist. When Lauren dies as a teen, the story splits into a few parts and we have parallel universes and different story lines happening.

In one of them, Lauren hasn’t died at all. She wakes up and continues life as normal. In another, her parents have a little daughter and are coping with Lauren’s death while raising the little girl. The third would represents Lauren’s mum who can’t cope with the pain and commits suicide, leaving Lauren’s dad on his own. With all of the story lines, one thing stays the same – a mysterious disappearance of Lauren’s dad’s boss – Peter.

In every life Lauren lives – she feels like she needs to find out what happened to Peter. In all honesty, this mystery was supposed to be the centre of the story in the book, but to me it just didn’t make sense at all. Once we got all the answers, all I could think of was that these two stories could have easily been made into two separate books.

While I had mixed feelings about the mystery of Peter, I definitely loved the parallel universe theme in the book. There were so many alternatives in Lauren’s life. It puts into perspective how one choice in your life can make a difference in the long run. If you only change one decision, you could end up somewhere completely different.

I cannot recommend this book enough, if this is a genre that intrigues you. If you are planning to read it, I would suggest to avoid reading reviews and synopsis and go with a blank page of expectations. The less you know – the better your experience will be. Keep your mind open and enjoy. Happy Reading! <3

Thank you to the team from HQ for sending me a hardcover ARC copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Books · interviews

Book Author Interview – Katie Lowe

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Hello All!

I have the pleasure to give to you an exclusive interview with KATIE LOWE, the author of The Furies, a book which I love and cherish!

Katie Lowe is a writer living in Worcester, UK. Her debut novel, The Furies has been published by Harperfiction (UK) this May. I have the pleasure to have this amazing short e-interview with Katie, while we discuss who she is, what inspired her to become an author and find out more about her first book.

Who is Katie Lowe?

Well, at the moment, first and foremost, I’m a novelist – spending almost all of my time working on my second book. I’m also about to start my PhD in literature – on the subject of female rage in literary modernism, and contemporary women’s writing – so I’d also say I’m an avid reader!

I live in Worcester, in a lovely little house with my sister, who’s an incredibly talented musician… So I consider myself to be a pretty lucky person, all things considered.

What inspired you to become a writer?

I think in one way or another it’s what I’ve always wanted to be – there’s a photo of on my eighth birthday in front of the typewriter I’d begged my parents for, because even back then, apparently, I took myself very seriously as a writer!

With that said, I always thought I’d write non-fiction – so for a long time, my great dream was to become an academic, or a journalist. It was only when my agent suggested I try my hand at fiction that I even considered I might be able to do it – and even then, I had to work at it for a good four or five years before I figured out how, exactly, fiction works… And that I could have a lot of fun doing it.

What particularly inspired you to write ‘’The Furies’’?


I knew I wanted to write a book about young women – particularly teenage girls – because I remember that period of my own life as being pretty emotionally intense, and full of potential. And the idea of witchcraft as a form of rebellion seemed to me too interesting not to write about. I find it a really powerful idea, personally, to have this history of (often forgotten) women who’ve positioned themselves as outsiders, even in the face of truly terrifying consequences… So I wanted The Furies to, in some way, explore that.

What message do you want to give to your readers through ‘’The Furies’’?

I don’t think there are any characters in the book that are particularly aspirational, or who’d serve in any way as role models – so I’m not sure it’s got an enormously positive message, in that respect. But what I’d love for it to do is to show that women – even, and especially, young women – have real agency, and power, and that they only have to believe in their own ability to harness it to make incredible things happen… Though whether that’s a good thing for the girls in this book, I’ll let your readers decide!

How do you deal with a writer’s block?

To be honest, I’ve never really found writer’s block to be a huge issue – partly because, up until quite literally the last month, I’ve always had to find time to write outside of work, using free minutes here and there… So each time I’ve sat down at my desk, I’ve been desperate to get going.

However, I’ve definitely found myself stuck on plot points, or other technical issues, while writing before – and for me, the best way to keep going is to go and do something else. So, for instance, if I’m stuck on how to move the plot forward, I’ll go back to another part of the book and focus on the description, the dialogue, or something else, and polish it up – and usually while I’m working on that, something will click with the bigger issue, so I can pick up where I left off.

What is the most challenging part when writing a book?


For me, it’s definitely plot. I so admire writers who can put together a really gripping, twisty plot – and it’s what I wanted to learn how to do with The Furies (though I’ll let you decide whether I’ve succeeded!) Writing flowery descriptions and spending time in character’s heads – that, for me, is all a joy – but the mechanics of getting a story from beginning to end in a way that’s believable, and yet unexpected… It’s definitely the biggest challenge, for me – and yet also the most satisfying thing to get right.

What kind of books do you want to read?


Given my PhD topic, this might be a fairly predictable answer – but I love books with complex, angry women – ideally who aren’t particularly likeable, either. I don’t know what that says about me, as a person, but… Here we are.

I also love books that give me an insight into a world, or a situation, that I know nothing about. I think there’s nothing better than closing the last page of a book and feeling like you truly experienced something you’d never have had the opportunity to, otherwise.

What was your favourite read in 2018?

A book that I absolutely adored – by which I mean, kept bringing up in conversation, without any context, and forcing it into the hands of almost-strangers – was Suicide Club by Rachel Heng. It’s an incredibly well-written book, with a brilliant premise – but it’s also deeply bittersweet, and asks a lot of questions about how, and why, we should want to live. I loved it.

Thank you for your time, Katie! It was a pleasure.

If you want to read my thoughts about The Furies, click here.

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Book Review · Books

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

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★★★★

A powerfully emotional book about the love, resilience and surviving through the worst possible circumstances. The Tattooist of Auschwitz is a true story of Lale, a Jew, who find himself trapped in a pool of uncertainty.

A true story that tells you all the horrible truths of what happened inside the camps. The unfairness of life and the people trapped inside. The families who tried to stick together with every strength left in their body. The endless hunger and sleepless nights, watching the people you love die in front of you.

I knew what I was getting into when I started reading this book. I knew the subject would be sad, painful, tormenting. All of these emotions passed through me while I was reading. But a few unexpected ones started flowing too – emotions of love; emotions of friendship; caring for one another. And oh God, the emotion of hope for a better tomorrow. Emotions that make you shiver.

While we follow Lale’s story, we get to see him getting dragged in a camp, fighting his way through starvation. He becomes a ”favourite” to the guards, and by favourite I mean – he might get to not work on Sunday sometimes. He makes friends in this unknown place, where you don’t know who to trust. And luck seems to be on his side at all times. He gets noticed by the tattooist, and becomes his apprentice, only to replace him a few days after. The old tattooist – we don’t know what happened to him, but we can only assume the worst.

While he is a tattooist, his job is to tattoo numbers on people’s arms. A soulless task, it might seem. Innocent people, who are about to become numbers. And he gets to be the one to inflict pain on them first. We can feel his struggle. How he tries to be as gentle as he can, given the circumstances. But he knows that in order to survive, he has to fit in. He has to push his way through. With time, he gets closer to the guards, and has a little extra to eat. He always saves his little extra piece of bread to give to his friends and share it among each other. As a lot of young people, he falls in love. And the lady likes him back.

Sometimes I thought to myself – when you are in such a closed space, with nowhere to go, do you really love someone? Or does ”love” simply then mean having a friend in need? With Lale, this was true love. The way he would describe his girl made you blush. The way he cares for her and the things he does for her are loving and impossible. There is a moment when Gita is sick, and can barely survive, but Lale saves her.

The cutest scene in the book

The scene when he will give diamonds and pearls he has been saving to get a chocolate. He gets a little piece only, and he can’t see Gita for weeks. When he finally does – the chocolate has melted, but they don’t care. They haven’t eaten chocolate for years, and this sweet delight makes them happy, at least for a little moment.

But life is not always so bright. He will meet Doctor Mengele, and not only him, but other awful people along the way. Lale will be punished, thrown in a cell, punched until he faints by his very own friend. He will see terrible things happen to his friends, his colleagues, his girlfriend’s friends. And on top of that, he will keep on going.

The Sad Reality

One scene in this book perfectly describes how someone might have felt being in there. A football match. Between prisoners and guards. Where even though the prisoners haven’t eaten for months, they are better players. But they cannot win this match. They can’t humiliate the guards. If they do, they will never get to play football ever again. A terrible humiliation and punishment. But a sad reality. You cannot win this game. Not today. Maybe tomorrow…

A beautiful book for all the wrong reasons. I wish some things never happened. And I hope never to be repeated again. But I cherish books like this one that exist to tell a story, no matter how upsetting it might be.

Prepare to cry, laugh and love. Prepare to be scared, angry and disgusted. But prepare to learn a piece of history, a piece of a time not so far away, where not everything was milk and honey. I recommend this book to all of you. This is definitely one of those ”must-read” books!

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Book Review · Books

The Recreators by Desiree Nordlund

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★★★★

I went into reading this book partially blind. The blurb doesn’t uncover much, and I was excited as to whether I would like it or not. The Recreators is a young-adult novel that happens in Medieval times and features characters who have God-like powers and are able to change a slight minimal portion of the world.

We follow three separate stories throughout this book:

Filia’s story

A princess who has disappeared and comes back years later to claim her throne. A fierce woman who is a Recreator, but chooses to use the powers for her own benefit. In this story we can see how Filia develops as a character, changes while learning new things, makes sacrifices and answers some of the most asked social questions… A powerful story of growing up, and definitely my favourite one of all three.

Vepresila’s story

She is chosen by the Goddess to serve her, but decides to take destiny in her own hands. This girl grew up with her family in a tribe with different moral and cultural values than what we know. Men and women don’t sleep under the same roof, and boys have to pass tests to become men, otherwise, they are stuck and disrespected. When the girl is chosen to go to the Goddess’ temple and serve her, she realises that the system doesn’t work, and tries to beat it. Finding her own destiny can prove to be a bouncy road, but she goes for it.

Simmiolas’s story

He is a Recreator and comes back to fixes a mistake he made in the past. While he travels, he settles with a circle of people, but they fail to believe he has powers and he doesn’t seem able to change their views on how they see nature and the world. Taking a dear friend with him, he is set on a mission to do what is right, before it is too late.

‘’Just because things don’t always go as planned, it doesn’t always mean the outcome will be for the worse.’’

These three stories feature these three different characters, with a lot of characters surrounding them and supporting them. The three stories connect each other at a few points, some sooner, some later. They never fully connect though, which did bother me, as I was expecting a one big ending. The three stories remained separated, which made me think if it would’ve been better to not connect them at all, or create three separate books for them.

‘’But if all places have different ideas about what’s right and wrong, how do we know what really is right and wrong?’’

Despite the story lines and the grammar errors I encountered, this book was truly amazing and I really enjoyed reading it. I loved the concept of the powers, loved the ethical lessons throughout the book, and I absolutely loved watching all of these characters grow in their own kind of way. There were amazing scenes of what is wrong and right, what fear is and how to overcome it, how to keep going despite making mistakes in the past, and a lot of various life lessons worth reading.

I recommend this book if this seems like the genre you might enjoy reading. It was the first book I read by Desiree Nordlund and I can’t wait to read more books written by her.

‘’The best way to cure fear of the unknown is to admit what caused the fear and watch it until it’s no longer something strange.’’

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